I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, June 8, 2012

NJ Charters: "Pretty Ugly"

UPDATED: Sorry to get the charter regulations and the State BOE wrong. They haven't yet formalized the changes, even though reports make it sound like a done deal. There's still time to fight this.


I'm sure the hive-mind of Broadies down at the NJ DOE is buzzing today; Bruce Baker posted something they aren't going to like:
Statewide schools over and under predicted performance 
First of all: you owe it to yourself to read the entire post. Bruce is one of those academics, like Paul Krugman, who can actually explain wonky stuff in terms you and I can understand.

What does all this mean? Well, Dr. Baker ran a "regression analysis" - a statistical tool for seeing how varying factors can change an outcome - on New Jersey charter schools. Here, he's looking at whether a charter school did better or worse than predicted on the state 8th Grade math test. The prediction is based on the characteristics of the students; for example, if a school has fewer poor students, we would expect it to do better on tests. Baker is attempting to control for those factors to see if the charter school itself is making a difference in student achievement.

The charters are in red. If they land above the red line, they are "beating the odds": they are doing better than we would expect, given the types of students they are teaching. If they are below, they are doing worse.

Given the charter cheerleading that goes on in this state, you'd expect to see many more schools above the line than below. Do you? Because I sure don't.

What's all this telling us, Professor?
On average, this statewide picture is actually pretty ugly. It would certainly be very hard to argue that charter school expansion across New Jersey has led to any substantive overall improvement of educational opportunities. Numerous charter schools are substantial underperformers. And overall, as the regression model indicates, the net performance is [dead] even. [emphasis mine]
Baker goes on to caution us that we can't really tell whether the schooling charters provide is actually "adding value" anyway, based on the data we have. It may well be that peer groups are exerting an influence here far more than actual instruction.

This is an extremely valuable post - and it couldn't come at a better (worse?) time. Because the New Jersey state BOE just voted to expand charters - particularly virtual charters - on the basis of little evidence that they actually will do anything to help student achievement. [No, they didn't vote; they were just taking public comment at this meeting. But Mooney does make it sound like it's a done deal.]

Remember: Chris Christie explicitly said that charter expansion is necessary to help kids over the next decade while his awesome tenure and awesome merit pay plans make the public schools awesomer:
I see tenure, merit pay and OSA as a bundle. I’d like to see them all go together. By repairing the tenure system, we’ll be able to get rid of some ineffective teachers, but then we’ve got to get effective ones in there and it’s going to be years and years. So that’s why I think OSA is such an important part, and increasing charter schools in urban areas, so that those kids don’t get lost while the fixes of tenure and merit pay are fixing the system in a 10-year horizon.
We know that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that either gutting tenure or instituting merit pay will do anything to increase student achievement. We now also see that there is no evidence that charter expansion will do anything to help kids while Christie's ineffective "fixes" are being implemented.

In other words: Christie and ACTING Commissioner Cerf's plans are useless in both the long- and the short-term.

Aweseome.

Hey, wasn't ACTING Commissioner Cerf suppose to put out a report dealing with all of this stuff? A report that looked at charter school achievement while controlling for student characteristics? A report that he would release "as quickly as is humanly possible?" Gosh, I wonder what happened to it...


459 days. What's the matter? Can't they find someone to cook the numbers for them?

It doesn't matter who they hire; Baker's just made the job that much harder. And he did it within a few days of the release of the new state "report card."

Gives new meaning to the phrase "as quickly as is humanly possible," doesn't it?

8 comments:

sandinbrick said...

Well when you have Christie flying all over the Country, to Wisconsin, for sure, that's the first thing he did, was to eliminate teacher's tenure. Cerf is just his dog that sits, and begs. You will never see proof that charter schools are better. I feel that Christie is the worse Gov. than any Republican Gov. we had. Being from New Jersey, I've been calling him out and continue to do so. New York already posted the grades of young students. We must respect our very good teachers. That's why I honor Marie Corfield for her fierce comeback. Christie slapped her in the face and she turned around and ran for Assembly. Here's hoping November comes soon. Thanks for letting me speak out on Charter Schools. No Corporate Education who do not belong in our State. Keep fighting!

isthisrob said...

I see the charter school I worked at 1 SD below the mean.

Shocked, I am.

Deb said...

Duke -

The hearings last Thursday were mercifully just hearings and no vote was taken on the proposed changes to the charter school regulations. THey could be voted on in July which leaves us plenty of time to continue to fight them. In less than a week we gathered 3000 signatures in opposition to the proposed changes (http://www.change.org/petitions/reject-destructive-changes-to-new-jersey-s-charter-school-regulations) so I encourage people to sign. Each signature generates letters to the NJDOE and legislative leadership - we know they are getting the message -- let's keep it going!

We had about 40 people testify against these regulations and Carlos Perez failed to make an appearance. Legislators ought to be told that these proposed changes are in violation of the proper legislative process to change the Charter Act of 1995.

WE CAN AND SHOULD STILL FIGHT THESE REGULATORY CHANGES!

Charters4Ever said...

Don't beat me up because I am pro-charter! Because we have common ground. I read this column on a regular basis and learn quite a bit from it so Thank You Jazzman!

I too am very disturbed about the regs and I'm hoping the NJ Charter organization submitted written testimony. But then again, maybe I hope they didn't.

Have no idea why they wouldn't show up at a public hearing - but maybe I do! Here is my guess just from the gossip in the charter community. Perez is very close to Deputy Commissioner Smarick! He checks with him all the time to ask what to do. And remember, Smarick now has the national authorizers processing charter applications. Total strangers to our communities making decisions on local government / schooling. So would Perez present testimony that Smarick wouldn't like.

Everything is a mess and we had high hopes just a few years ago. But these know-nothing clowns who are only interested in privatization are ruining everything.

I've exhausted google looking for what Smarick has done in education. The answer, he once did something for an cmo in starting a mc-charter in Maryland. Anyone can open a Mc-charter because everything is done for you by the big guys. And there's nothing to be found as to what he exactly did - I suspect he allowed his name to be used for the McBoard of Trustees. Smarick once wrote about education. Well, I can get my students to "write" about education but that doesn't mean they qualify for school administration.

The previous NJDOE charter genius, a Miss Carly something, (can't remember last name) was someone who once did some press releases for a Philadelphia charter. That made her big boss of the charters. In googling (long ago) her, I found she attended private schools and her degrees weren't in education.

Back to present. Everything is a mess. We need some common sense, some logic, some interest in parents and students!

Jazzman, we have differences but we also have common ground, we care! That is something I don't see at the NJ Department of Education with their education as business for profit agenda.

7530feb4-a8e3-11e1-aa46-000bcdca4d7a said...

While their "reforms" do nothing to improve achievement, the ignore the ONE thing that actually will have an impact. By creating policies, jobs, and family supports to help eliminate poverty -which they are trying to change research to say it has zero to do with edu outcomes- that is the most effective and immediate path to fixing edu outcomes and persistent gaps. The increased funding has raised achievement of ALL students but there is that persistent gap that is held by poverty levels. ALL the research proves this yet they refuse to acknowledge this with any real seriousness. Now the king is taking money away from those schools and giving it to his GOP base schools. It's so obvious it's laughable. Everyone, just keep up the good fight and talking about it every chance you get. We are not swallowing it.

Duke said...

Charters4Ever:

I don't know why, but your post was removed. Some sort of bug; please post again.

Charters4Ever said...

Don't beat me up because I am pro-charter! Because we have common ground. I read this column on a regular basis and learn quite a bit from it so Thank You Jazzman!

I too am very disturbed about the regs and I'm hoping the NJ Charter organization submitted written testimony. But then again, maybe I hope they didn't.

Have no idea why they wouldn't show up at a public hearing - but maybe I do! Here is my guess just from the gossip in the charter community. Perez is very close to Deputy Commissioner Smarick! He checks with him all the time to ask what to do. And remember, Smarick now has the national authorizers processing charter applications. Total strangers to our communities making decisions on local government / schooling. So would Perez present testimony that Smarick wouldn't like? That is the question.

Everything is a mess and we had high hopes just a few years ago. But these know-nothing Department of Ed clowns who are only interested in privatization are ruining everything.

I've exhausted google looking for what Smarick has done in education. The answer, he once did something for an cmo in starting a mc-charter in Maryland. Anyone can open a Mc-charter because everything is done for you by the big guys. And there's nothing to be found as to what he exactly did - I suspect he allowed his name to be used for the McBoard of Trustees. Smarick once wrote about education. Well, I can get my students to "write" about education but that doesn't mean they qualify for school administration. Or, maybe by Department of Ed standards, they do qualify.

The previous NJDOE charter genius, a Miss Carly something, (can't remember last name) was someone who once did some press releases for a Philadelphia charter. That made her big boss of the charters. In googling (long ago) her, I found she attended private schools and her degrees weren't in education.

Back to present. Everything is a mess. We need some common sense, some logic, some interest in parents and students!

Jazzman, we have differences but we also have common ground, we care! That is something I don't see at the NJ Department of Education with their view of education as business for profit agenda.

Duke said...

Deb, my mistake, and a pretty bad one to boot - I will fix today and post further.

C4E: As I've said, I am not against charters per se. I started in a charter - a fact to which my trolls seem to attach great importance.

There is a place for charters, but only after great scrutiny and a demonstration of real need.

Thx for posting, everyone.